Phuket oil spill threatens ecosystem, 4 sea turtles found dead already

Photo courtesy of Thai Maritime Enforcement Command Centre's Region 3

An oil spill originating from an unverified source, suspected to be a ship, contaminated the shores of Sirinat National Park and Koh Racha Yai. Authorities have already managed to clear up around 3 tonnes of oil.

The Deputy Director-General of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, Pornsri Suthanaruk, met yesterday with experts in maritime and coastal ecosystems, the director of Marine and Coastal Resources Research Centre, Upper Andaman Sea branch, and deputy governor of Phuket – Amnuay Pinsuwan. The team deliberated on clean-up measures to combat the Phuket oil spill.

The Phuket oil spill is projected to have begun off the coast of the neighbouring Phang Nga province last week, later making its way to Koh Racha Yai, Phuket by the weekend. Approximately two tonnes of oil were collected from the sandy beaches of Sirinat National Park, while the remaining one tonne came from Koh Racha Yai.

Experts are also taking into account the environmental impact. The colossal slick has put vulnerable undersea coral, spread across 4,000 rai from Phang Nga to Phuket at risk. Along with the sea area impact, authorities are unearthing information about marine life casualties caused by the Phuket oil spill. Pornsri confirmed that authorities are keen on eliminating as much oil as they can, in haste, to prevent any seepage into the sand which could lead to a lasting danger for shellfish.

The Department disclosed that the Phuket oil spill already claimed the lives of four sea turtles. Autopsies revealed oil remnants inside the stomachs of the turtles, indicating the probability of the oil originating from a tanker or cargo ship.

Authorities have also issued a warning to tourists against swimming or beachcombing in the contaminated areas. In addition, they were encouraged to report any oil sightings to the local authorities, reported Bangkok Post.

In the hopes of establishing a link to the origin of this slick, the department has conducted a sea current and wind speed simulation for the past ten days. The analysis indicated that the spillage could have happened around 90 nautical miles east of Phuket.

Pornsri revealed that the Phuket provincial office has data that could help in identifying the vessel responsible for the Phuket oil spill. The Marine Department has compiled a detailed record of ship movements which is expected to prove crucial in putting the pieces together.

Thailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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